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SAHIWAL: Heads of around three dozen urban and rural public schools in the district have been fooled by a fraudster who extorted money from them through online transactions, posing as an education department officer.

Arshad Butt, the principal of Government Rai Niaz High School received a call on his mobile phone on Friday morning. The caller introduced himself as an executive district officer (EDO) of education department.

The caller claimed that he was appointed head of a “district mobile inspection team,” assigned with the task of inspecting schools and submitting reports to the Punjab chief minister.

He told the school head to send him Rs9,000 online, against a computerised identity card number. Mr Butt following the instructions immediately sent the amount.

Later on it transpired that it was not an isolated incident.

Government Girls M C High School headmistress received a similar call and she too dispatched an equal amount through an online money transaction service to the caller.

On making inquiry, Dawn learnt through sources that heads of some three dozen government schools received such calls, mostly falling a prey to the “trick”.

However, there are a few exceptions, Government Girls Secondary High School headmistress being one. After receiving the call, she acted smartly and cross checked it with the local EDO (Education) Officer.

The EDO office expressed its ignorance about the matter, also denying knowledge of any “inspection” by a monitoring team.

Inamur Rasool, Assistant Director, (Budget and Accounts) at the EDO office confirmed such calls were being made to public schools heads. He denied any school inspection plan or any departmental “instructions” about collecting money from school heads.

Mr Rasool said following reports about such calls, the department asked law enforcing agencies to track the caller’s identity through National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

He said through Nadra it was revealed that the caller was a resident of Toba Tak Singh, Adnan Saddiq, son of Muhammad Saddiq. It was further learnt the money was received through different mobile companies’ outlets in Shorkot, he added.

He said the suspect would soon be arrested.

He said the district officer (education) had sent SMSs to all headmasters and headmistresses of public schools, warning them against dispatching money to anybody.

The sources said the EDO office had also instructed the school heads to report such matter to local police station if they received such calls in future.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2015

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